In the managing PTSD summit I will be speaking about my own experiences with CPTSD and anxiety, I will be talking about how I developed toxic coping strategies to try to deal with my own issues and why I am so passionate about inner child healing and reparenting the inner child with hypnosis.
I grew up with a lot of dysfunction, it wasn’t an extremely violent childhood but it was far from serene. I was the first born son and my parents got married due to my birth, my mother had a lot of mental issues and I am told she abused me when I was a baby, I am also told there was a lot of arguing between my parents. My second brother was born with a heart condition when I was about three and my third brother a year later, I felt resented and pushed out, I was the black sheep of the family at home.
With my grandparents (my mothers parents) it was a different story, I was their eldest grandchild and born shortly after my grandmother’s father died. My grandmother completely enmeshed me, she used to call me her little man and she was always putting my father down, she used to call him porky Pete. She used to tell me that my mother didn’t have to get married, that she would have looked after me. I am told they offered my father money to not marry my mother.
Home life with my parents and brothers was violent, my mother had serious issues with emotional regulation. My father was quite narcissistic, he used to tell me I should have been a girl, I wasn’t a boy, I was gay. My brothers and I were constantly fighting, being older, bigger and stronger I would always win which would then lead to my parents hitting me.
I would go to my grandparents every weekend and they would spoil me. I got everything I wanted there and I cried when I had to return home. My grandparents home was a safe haven from physical violence but there was a lot of mental and emotional abuse besides my grandmother’s enmeshment, one aunt in particular was a particularly vicious piece of work.
I think I was about seven when my father threw me down the stairs one morning before school. I went to school in a bit of a state and they called social services. I was “always daydreaming”, was my fathers excuse I think. From the age of seven to about twelve I had to see a child psychologist. My mother used to see someone as well, I remember my mother making a couple of suicide attempts. She had a bit of a drink issue (not alcoholic but not healthy either) it was after her binge drinking episodes that she used to get suicidal.
I was around seven or eight when she got drunk and told me how she abused me when I was a baby, “but I love you really Mark” she said. I think the child psychologist or her psychiatrist had probably told her to tell me, maybe they thought I’d like to know why I had serious issues someday.
Being a child I internalised a lot of the dysfunction and I thought it meant there was something wrong with me, I didn’t feel accepted, I was insecure, I had low self esteem, confidence and anxiety. I thought the world and everyone in it was out to get me.
Issues At School
School wasn’t great for me, Having to read for my parents was an issue, my mother could hardly read herself and they both seemed to become frustrated when they heard all three of us read. Our parents called us thick and stupid when we tried to read. I didn’t concentrate very well in the early years and I didn’t get treated any differently whether I was good or bad so I usually choose to be bad. I felt quite proud when my english teacher said “Mark is an extremely capable student but chooses to act the class buffoon” in a school report when I was about thirteen. I was quite quick witted and I think making jokes helped me deal with my anxiety, I liked hearing people laugh. I couldn’t cope with silence. I left college after a year and a half before they threw me out.
My Inner Child Affected My Relationships
My first proper relationship was with a girl who had an eating disorder, it didn’t end well. From 17 to 21 I had a few one night stands, I was quite popular with the girls and my mates seemed impressed by my ability to pull. I think pulling girls made me feel less insecure but I rarely enjoyed it and it caused me all kinds of other issues.
I ended up living with my grandparents when I was about 17 and I realise now that this was when my mental health really started to suffer. I was constantly gas lit by my grandmother. When other family members would put me down my grandfather would tell me not to argue back, this pretty much disabled my fight response. I couldn’t keep a job for long, I had anxiety issues and what probably looked like an attitude problem. A colleague once told me I had a personality disorder.
Married Too Young
When I was 21 I met my wife, I think she was the first person I had ever felt comfortable with. I had developed a negative view of women and I couldn’t put up with them for long without becoming narcissistic. I would often start insulting them, I couldn’t stop myself, it felt like I was possessed.
With her it was different, I would still be a dick sometimes but I think she was more capable of fighting back and stopping me going too far. She often used to slap me even being slapped didn’t stop me. Sometimes I would keep being verbally abusive until she cried. At the time I justified it to myself as testing to see if she loved me. We got married within a year of meeting and moved in together.
She wasn’t an angel, she was fairly violent and emotionally dysregulated but after growing up around my mother I had adopted the belief that was the way women were. She helped me quite a lot, she taught me what boundaries were and when she was around it helped reduce my anxiety. She was very attractive which made me feel more secure and less inferior to other men. We tended to manipulate each other quite a lot, there was a constant push pull in our relationship, I think we were both pretty abusive to be honest. I have been told that she and I are as bad as one another.
I ended up working in various telesales roles, I liked working in sales, I liked manipulating people, I liked the buzz of getting a sale and as long as I hit my targets my employers didn’t seem to care what else I did or if I looked like I was having a melt down most of the time. I was always the top of the sales team and this again made me feel less inferior.
When I was 24 we bought a flat and a year later my daughter was born. The birth of my daughter was a real turning point for me, I don’t think I had ever known unconditional love until this point. I didn’t want a child, I felt neither of us was ready and was really scared of the responsibility but I promised myself I would never let my daughter feel unwanted or raise her the way I had been raised.
Having a baby really changed the dynamic in our relationship, the abuse was no longer two-way. It was regularly threatened that if I didn’t buy this or that I would never see my daughter again, “if you love your daughter you will buy it” was a common threat. I suggested to her that we go for marriage guidance but she refused saying the issue was with me, “I was damaged goods.” When I was 28 I finally decided I couldn’t put up with it any longer, I left.
I moved back to my grandparents house and started divorce proceedings on the basis of unreasonable behaviour. One year after the divorce my ex-wife decided she wanted to leave the country with our daughter and this led to a 4 year custody battle which cost me at least £50,000 and caused me to suffer endless sleepless nights. I had left her because she was abusive and the court system allowed her to continue abusing me, using our child as a weapon. Our house got repossessed and my ex-wife blocked me from seeing my daughter several times throughout this battle, I was a chain smoking mess.
I ended up in a relationship with someone who was very supportive and caring, it was a lot of fun at first but after 3 years I decided I wanted more than she could offer, ending this relationship was not easy.
I was still living with my grandparents and I had started doing freelance work online. I initially liked doing freelance work as it meant I didn’t have to be around people all day but after a while the isolation started to get to me.
I was around 36 when weird things started to happen, I still don’t know if it was a breakdown, my grandmother’s constant gas lighting, psychosis caused by depression, dissociation caused by the abuse from my childhood or what but things got strange. My ex-wife accused me of mentally abusing our daughter, I genuinely didn’t think I was. I thought it was just banter because narcissistic remarks and gaslighting is what I had grown up with.
I started looking at my life, looking for answers to what was going on. My work started to suffer. I ended up refunding a number of clients because I couldn’t find the motivation to do the work they had paid me for, I would spend my day ruminating on the past wondering if I was going mad trying to work out what had happened.
Projection and False Accusations
I witnessed my mother coming round my grandparents house taking money off them so she could go to the pub with her boyfriend. She would come round in the morning to take a couple of hundred of one and then be back in the evening taking more of the other. I tried to stop her but she wouldn’t listen, I tried to stop my grandfather giving it to her but he said, “it’s my money, I’ll give it to whoever I like” I made the mistake of telling my aunt about what was happening.
My uncles and aunt decided to take my grandmother’s bank card off her and this caused stress for my grandparents, my grandmother ended up in hospital where she nearly died. I spoke to my uncle and said he needed to stop doing what he was doing and give my grandmother her bank card back. The day after my grandmother came out of hospital my uncle came round threatening to smack me on the nose and calling my mother a slag.
Another Rejection From My Mother
My mother became my grandmother’s carer but she didn’t do any caring, that was left to me. I would be trying to work and having my grandmother calling to me to help her, “Mark, Mark”. My mother wouldn’t even clean the house for them despite the fact that she was being paid for that as well, “I am the carer not the home help” she said. My grandmother emotionally blackmailed me with claims that she had taken me in when I was a baby. “We looked after you, you need to look after us.”
My aunt kept trying to get access to my grandparents online banking, she would call up quizzing my grandmother asking her what she was spending her money on. I stopped her accessing the account several times and she threatened to have me beaten up.
Until this point I had always blamed my father for my problems, he was a pig according to my grandmother but I now started to see things a bit differently. I could see that my grandparents had been the main cause of my mothers mental issues, they had infantilised her and convinced her that nothing was her fault, that she was the victim of my “pig father”.
She had never been much of a mother but it wasn’t until my grandfather ended up in hospital that I realised how bad she actually was, it came to light that for 3 years she had been taking money off my grandfather whilst refusing to give me any support with their care. Throughout this time my aunt had accused me of stealing money from my grandparents and repeatedly threatened to have me beaten up.
I didn’t know how I could forgive my mother for what she had done and I felt like seriously damaging my other aunt and uncles, I wanted to understand why they were the way they were. I could see that most people would have just walked away from the situation that I was in but I just couldn’t, I was suffering from learned helplessness, codependency and enmeshment trauma. I was being emotionally blackmailed by my grandparents and I think it’s fair to say that my grandmother would have been killed by her four kids if I hadn’t been there.
I started looking for solutions to my anxiety and confidence issues, I wanted to understand why my family was so messed up. I started studying hypnosis and doing inner child work.
I came to the realization that my grandmother had the traits of a covert narcissist and I could see that many other family members had some serious narcissistic traits. These people had projected their insecurities, issues and toxic shame onto me. I don’t blame them, this is generational trauma and what we don’t heal we will either repeat or reenact onto others.
Until I began doing self hypnosis, meditation and inner child work I suffered blackouts, serious dissociation episodes, emotional dysregulation, I was codependent and narcissistic. I struggled in social situations, I couldn’t form functional relationships.